December 13, 2006
Sacramento's Wine-Bar Boom

Three Sacramento wine bars are vying to be the first to take flight. Fittingly, it likely will be Vino Volo, nearing completion on the upper concourse of Terminal A at Sacramento International Airport. Carla Wytmar, spokeswoman for Vino Volo, says the tasting bar and retail shop is expected to open on or about Christmas, just in time for travelers to pick up a last-minute gift. Of course, a hitch as unpredictable as Sacramento Valley fog could develop, postponing the debut.

In that case, Reda Bellarbi's tiny wine bar The Grand could be the first of the three to open. "Definitely before New Year's Eve," says Bellarbi of The Grand's premiere. If not the first of the three, it definitely will be the smallest, occupying a 305-square-foot nook of a state parking garage at 16th and L. The space originally was intended to house pay machines for parkers, but then the concept changed, they weren't installed and the space became available. Bellarbi took one look and thought, "Wine barrel!" Or maybe cork.

The third wine bar - L, the Wine Lounge and Urban Kitchen - is expected to open in early or mid-February as part of a new residential and retail complex at 18th and L in midtown. Marcus and Kolea Marquez - he's a former manager at The Kitchen - are the principals. Ame Harrington, also formerly of The Kitchen, as well as Selland's Market Cafe & Bakery and Enotria Restaurant & Wine Bar, will be executive chef, reports Andrea Lepore, spokeswoman for the project as well as a principal. L's wine director will be Jonathon Klonecke, a Los Angeles software engineer whose love for wine is prompting this career switch, starting with the certified wine professional program at the Culinary Institute of America in Napa Valley.

Lepore also is involved in helping bring Fabrizio Cercatore to town from the northern Italian fishing town of La Spezia, where he runs a restaurant and bed-and-breakfast inn. In midtown Sacramento - the specific location hasn't been chosen - he will operate a pizza cafe, says Lepore. A spring opening is anticipated. No name yet has been chosen.

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